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Tuesday, July 31, 2007
posted by Justin Hart | 7:28 AM | permalink
Reports that Fred's money machine may not be firing on all cylinders leads me to share what I’ve learned about fundraising in the last three years: it is very hard work.

But if you have the right model you can accomplish amazing things. As a comparison note that Romney raised about $3 million before lunch was over at his fundraising kickoff. The contrast is stark.

Here are some quick thoughts on what it takes to raise money.

First and foremost, understand some of the underlying rules of fundraising:

1. “People give to people to help people” – I’ve been working with non-profit organizations for over a decade. Without fail, a general clarion-call for money will fail compared to a plea for a specific cause, especially when it’s linked with a picture and a story. You need to have a compelling story with a person who can conjure up a compelling reason to get people to open their wallets.

2. “People give relative to their means” – No matter what the cause, the amount of donations from the 35-60 crowd will far outweigh the 20-30 crowd for one simple reason. They have $ to spend.

3. “Those closest must set the pace” – When Romney kicked off the exploratory committee with a national call day January 8th the 5 Romney boys set the example for the other 400 fundraisers by sticking at their tables for the entire duration of the event. When Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay take 9 hours out of her day to sit at another table and ask people for money it makes an impact on everyone around her.

Next we need to take a look at the trends in fundraisings:

1. Growing use of the Internet for fundraising – “Growing” is the operative word. By most accounts donations raised via the Internet is pithy and underwhelming. Only a handful of non-profit organizations have shown more than 6 figures in online fundraising. The trend is obviously with the Internet but it has not been the harbinger of $$$ that many expected.

2. Innovation and adopting new practices and models – The key to fundraising is innovation. I wager that any one of us receives half-a-dozen letters a week soliciting donations. Standout out above the noise is the key to successful fundraising. Take for instance Romney’s “Students for Mitt” program where college students can receive 10% back on everything they raise for the campaign.

3. Involve everyone in fundraising – I know some professional fundraisers who were very upset at the Romney campaign for opening the fundraising floodgates to anyone and everyone. But it’s paid off. For example, as a “Patriot” level fundraiser I have the ability to create “associate fundraisers”. I get credit for whatever money they bring in and they in turn get credit for being part of a successful team of fundraisers.

4. Contemporary corporate marketing practices – Like any aged market, the political sphere has its own consultants, approaches, and software packages. Most every political campaign uses Aristotle Publishing for voter lists and most every 501(c)4 uses Capitol Advantage for online advocacy. Romney broke the mold by utilizing a contact management system called typically utilized by large and dispersed sales and business development groups.

5. MOST IMPORTANT: FOCUS ON DONORS: When you give $2300 dollars to a campaign you are the man (or at least you should be treated like “the man”.) Next to your unpaid fundraisers you must focus like a laser beam on your high end contributors. By creating incentives and time factors into your efforts you create an energetic need to get involved and “max out”. Romney has held numerous incentive-bases time-sensitive fundraising efforts to meet this challenge

Lastly, you need to understand WHY people give:

• Believe we are making a difference in a cause they care about.
• They value your work
• They see it as an investment
• Get something in return
• Feel good about themselves
• Return a favor
• Solve a problem
• Send a message
• Received quality information
• Align with peers
• Bring justice to the world

If you cater your message to these efforts your fundraising effort might just work. But note this: by my calculations 60-70% of the money that Romney has raised has been at in-person events.

I’ve said this before but I believe that Fred is one election too early to concentrate on the virtual handshake. Romney has attended approximately 150 in-person fundraising events since January. The average take at these events is probably $150,000+. You do the math. Better yet, Fred better do it.

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Fred Thompson needs to learn that the best way to fund your campaign is by putting in your own money. Especially if you don't have very many supporters.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 3, 2007 at 9:26 AM  

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